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Database Provider


Ryan Phelan, TED


6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Biology

Resource Type

  • Videos, 15 minutes, 35 seconds, CC, Subtitles

Regional Focus

Global, North America, United States, Asia


Downloadable MP4/M4V

The Intended Consequences of Helping Nature Thrive

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  • This video highlights the genetic rescue of endangered species such as black-footed ferrets, wild horses, coral reefs, and chestnut trees, with the intention of conserving and increasing biodiversity. 
  • It highlights habitat loss and invasive species as major risks to endangered species, along with a lack of genetic diversity in small populations of endangered species.
Teaching Tips


  • The video does not ignore unintended consequences that can occur from genetic manipulation.
  • Subtitles are available in eight languages.
  • The video includes a timestamped transcript with a read-along feature.

Additional Prerequisites

  • The talk ends at 12 minutes, 41 seconds and the remaining time includes a few follow-up questions with the speaker.
  • Students should have some background knowledge of how human activity has impacted biodiversity and some species' ability to thrive in nature or adapt to changes.
  • A major focus of the video discusses the benefits of genetic modification, but stresses that it should be to help species survive, not to patent life or profit from them.


  • Students in biology classes can research endangered species and identify and analyze which of the potential solutions mentioned in the video would be most effective for repopulation.
  • Students can do further research on other examples of unintended consequences resulting from humans interfering in nature and analyze the original intentions of each interference.
  • Other resources related to these topics include this video on the importance of biodiversity for our survival, this video about various methods used to protect species and habitats, and this video about human impacts on biodiversity.
Scientist Notes
This 16-minute TED talk discusses ways in which cloning and other genetic engineering technologies are being used to protect and conserve endangered species, protect biodiversity, and preserve genetic variation within populations. Examples presented include ferrets, horses, and coral. This resource also presents some of the risks and potential unintended consequences and unexpected outcomes of these interventions. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Science
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-4. Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.
    • LS3: Heredity
      • HS-LS3-3. Apply concepts of statistics and probability to explain the variation and distribution of expressed traits in a population.
    • LS4: Biological Evolution
      • MS-LS4-5. Gather and synthesize information about the technologies that have changed the way humans influence the inheritance of desired traits in organisms.
      • HS-LS4-5. Evaluate the evidence supporting claims that changes in environmental conditions may result in: (1) increases in the number of individuals of some species, (2) the emergence of new species over time, and (3) the extinction of other species.
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